White Sox

What will Steve Cishek's role be with White Sox? 'Get three outs, any inning'

What will Steve Cishek's role be with White Sox? 'Get three outs, any inning'

It's safe to say the White Sox wanted to add Steve Cishek to their bullpen.

"According to my agent, within five minutes after the World Series, the White Sox called and expressed some interest," Cishek said Wednesday. "So when you get a call that soon, you know the team is up to something. Then of course with what they did this offseason, it made signing here very intriguing."

So what will Cishek's role be at the back end of that bullpen? For the newest member of the South Side relief corps, it's really not that difficult.

"I would assume it would be the same as it was with the Cubs," he said. "Get three outs, any inning."

Cishek is aboard to bolster that back end, one that heads into 2020 with some concrete names but some mystery, as well. Alex Colome will be the team's closer after racking up 126 saves over the past four seasons, and Aaron Bummer figures to be a frequent presence in the eighth inning of games after posting a 2.13 ERA last season.

Cishek was extraordinarily reliable for Joe Maddon and the Cubs in his two seasons on the North Side, with a 2.55 ERA in a whopping 150 appearances, many of them coming in high-leverage situations.

While Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero will start the season as options for Rick Renteria in high-leverage situations, too, that pair doesn't have quite the track record of Cishek. With Rick Hahn quick to remind about the volatility of relief pitching from one year to the next, adding a dependable arm in Cishek is an important complement to what the White Sox already had in the 'pen.

"I am fortunate enough now that we have guys that have all been at the back end of a ballgame and have had success in that particular role," Renteria said Wednesday. "I've got flexibility now and strength and hopefully having guys being able to take advantage of high-leverage situations. I use a guy two, three, four days (in a row), it's nice to have another guy I can probably slot in there to be able to do things like that. I have a little bit more flexibility right now."

Cishek's contributions on the pitcher's mound will obviously be of great import, but like every other veteran addition the White Sox have made this winter, he's also expected to do plenty in the clubhouse. While the Cubs teams he was a part of played in just one postseason game the past two seasons, he's no stranger to dealing with big expectations. The White Sox have those now after years of rebuilding, and Cishek should be able to help guide the players new to such an environment.

"With expectations, as long as we stay together as a team we can accomplish a lot," Cishek said. "A lot of the guys we've brought in have been through the fire. As a matter of fact, most of the guys have played in the playoffs the last four or five seasons even. So they have the playoff experience. They know what it takes to win and get to that level, and I think that's going to bode well for these young guys to see how they work, how us older veteran guys get after it and hopefully follow suit.

"I think we can teach these guys how to win."

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White Sox Talk Podcast: The person making the boldest White Sox predictions

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: The person making the boldest White Sox predictions

Chuck Garfien is joined by the man who predicted a White Sox division title for the 2020 season before the Sox made any moves, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Castrovince also discusses his other bold White Sox predictions and why he's making them.

(2:48) - Why Castrovince selected the Sox to win the AL central

(7:03) - Why Castrovine selected Rick Renteria as AL Manager of the Year

(9:56) - Yoan Moncada will challenge Mike Trout for AL MVP

(12:43) - Will Luis Robert win Rookie of the Year

(13:54) - Why the Padres missed and the White Sox won last winter on Manny Machado

(18:57) - Was the Astro punishment enough?

(23:30) - For the love of Bruce Springsteen

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Rick Renteria eyes playoffs: 'If anybody is afraid of setting expectations, this is not a place to be'

Rick Renteria eyes playoffs: 'If anybody is afraid of setting expectations, this is not a place to be'

Rick Renteria has expectations of playing in October. And he wants everyone involved with the White Sox to feel the same way.

Those playoff expectations are realistic ones after the work Rick Hahn's front office has done this winter, joining impact veterans like Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnacion with a burgeoning young core that broke out in impressive fashion in 2019.

Of course, the White Sox still lost 89 games last season, despite breakout campaigns from Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez. So there's plenty that has to happen before the South Side can start making October plans for the first time in more than a decade.

But the skipper is — as he's been happy to share since the waning days of the 2019 season — making no bones about what he thinks his players and White Sox fans should be ready to accomplish in 2020.

"If you just simply look at us on paper, we are a much improved club," Renteria said Wednesday. "We still have to do it and get it done. There’s no magic potion other than guys executing for me. My job is to make sure that they stay as confident as possible, put them in the best place to have success.

"My expectations haven’t changed. We want to fight for the postseason. We either want to win a division, we want to be a wild card, whatever the case might be. We want to be in a place where we are winning more ballgames and putting ourselves in a relevant position to win.

"I’ll repeat this: If anybody is afraid of setting expectations, this is not a place to be. It’s about winning, ultimately, and I think that the organization has done a great job to put us on better footing to be able to give us a chance to do that."

It might, to some, sound like the typical "hope springs eternal" message that skippers doll out in hefty helpings at this time of year, and certainly there are reasons to be skeptical about the White Sox leaping from 89 losses to playoff status in one season. The starting rotation is improved but still faces mysteries with its younger members. Some of the team's best hitters in 2019 benefited from good fortune and need to prove they can still produce at a high level if that fortune doesn't return in 2020. There are still players who have limited or no major league experience and could experience growing pains.

But with Grandal, Keuchel and Encarnacion — among other veteran additions — bringing winning experience along with their track records of production to an extremely talented core featuring Giolito, Moncada, Anderson, Jimenez, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and eventually Nick Madrigal, it's not difficult to see how this team could explode to the top of the AL Central to complete their transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

So for Renteria to have such high hopes makes plenty of sense — even if it's not at all unexpected.

"At the end of the day, my story hasn’t changed with the players," he said. "For three years, we talked about high expectations and winning, and they have been grinding and chipping away at that mentality and trying to understand it and trying to perform.

"Now you have a compilation of younger players who have been developing and learning what it’s like to be at the major league level and now they are going to have some players, some teammates who are going to help them along the way to help us through the performances, hopefully win more ballgames and we do what we do.

"Everyone in major sports wants to win and that’s what we want to do. Our expectation is to win."

That's music to the ears of White Sox fans who have watched their team lose a combined 284 games in Renteria's first three seasons as the South Side skipper. Certainly the front office has done their part in bolstering this roster, not just this winter but as part of the long-running rebuilding effort. Now it's up to Renteria and the players to reach the postseason.

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